Two items of news in the same newspaper on the same day caught my eye this week. The Daily Mail reported the story of Graham Head, a farmer who breeds minature horses on the North Downs in Surrey. Seems that Mr. Head built himself a bungalow on greenbelt land. Now it seems too that Mr. Head never applied for planning permission, and who can blame him? With the ridiculous planning laws in this country he would never have gotten it anyway! The bungalow is a three bedder and in order to hide it from any eyes in the skies Mr. Head built it under an open barn as the picture here clearly shows, c/o the Daily Mail (see link below). Mr. Head had hoped to live in the bungalow for years and to hide it on the ground he had hidden it behind bales of straw. The secrecy was such a strain that his marriage crumbled. Neighbours and passers by grew suspicious and informed the local council. Mole Valley District Council. I lived in Dorking for years and know this area up round Ranmore Common. The whole area is beautiful. However, ask yourself how is it that when driving around, walking, whatever one finds houses tucked away. They were obviously built prior to the 1948 Town & Country Planning Act or if newer have replaced something of that vintage. At first glance (link below) ask yourself how much this bungalow imposes itself on the countryscape. Probably if you visited the area you'd still miss it. There are areas that need careful planning thought applied to them but a straight denial to new developments ought not fit in to that process. Surely there is an argument to allow only self-build singular projects to be built in open countryside subject to planning instead of a blanket denial? Mr. Head broke the law, he has only himself to blame but you can understand that with all this land available self-builders get frustrated. Land that is available within settlement boundaries of towns or bungalows and the like that have seen better days, which were built prior to 1948 in open countryside and are ripe for rebuild get snapped up by developers.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=440771&in_page_id=1770&in_page_id=1770&expand=true#StartComments
The next piece of news concerned a story again from the Daily Mail concerning a concerted effort led by Tory MP Greg Clark and Labour backbencher Chris Mullin to have gardens labelled as Greenfield sites, as opposed to brownfield. This all stems from the fact that developers land assemble sites from existing gardens. Suppose you and several neighbours have gardens of perhaps 150' and they decide it would be good for their bank balances to sell off a chunk of this to a developer. That is land assembly. Gardens are classed as brownfield sites therefore are fair game for development. Greg Clark, Chris Mullin and others aren't too pleased with this and want Greenfield status applied thereby making it much more difficult to develop these sites. They instead want what I suppose they would term as real brownfield sites developed. Old industrial sites, yards, depots, warehousing, that sort of thing. Stuff that does get developed. That is okay if there is an abundant supply but especially in the south-east of England, there isn't! Also, where does the industry, commerce and supply industires go? Councils will often refuse planning on this type of site as it takes away employment opportunities. Admittedly developers do not like these kind of sites as they are often inpregnated with heavy metals and need the first foot of soil removing and taking to landfill sites. That all costs money and face facts, developers like anyone else in commerce and industry aren't a charity! The Campaign to Protect Rural England have said too it is worried about garden grabbing. It calls for stronger powers for local authorities. Really, the CPRE seem to lack any real credibility over planning issues and perhaps should stick to the countryside where they come from. As in the post above, the time has come where we got rid of this ridiculous situation of insisting on a blanket ban on building in what is often termed Greenbelt and let the people back into the countryside from where they were removed by the Enclosure Acts of 150 years a go.
The first story here shows it is nigh on impossible to build in the countryside, the second story shows that when you don't build in the countryside but in the towns and cities there are people out there still ready to criticise you. http://www.answers.com/topic/enclosure-acts
Labels: Chris Mullin, CPRE, greenbelt, greenfield, Greg Clark, land